Campaigning drew to an end on Monday evening in 67 constituencies of western Uttar Pradesh figuring in the second phase of the seven-phase Assembly elections in the state on February 15.
The constituencies are spread across 11 districts— Saharanpur, Bijnor, Moradabad, Sambhal, Rampur, Bareilly, Amroha, Pilibhit, Kheri, Shahjahanpur and Badaun. Of the 67 seats at stake, ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) had won 34 in 2012, followed by BSP 18, BJP 10, Congress 3 and others 2.
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah championed the cause of the saffron party during the campaigning, the SP-Congress alliance’s charge was spearheaded by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, besides other leaders of the respective parties.
BSP supremo Mayawati wooed the voters addressing one rally after another all by herself, with senior party leader SC Misra chipping in at certain places. Both PM Modi and Shah slammed the Congress and SP, saying Rahul ran a campaign against the SP government and wondered what change of heart made them embrace each other now.
Akhilesh and Rahul harped on demonetisation, alleging that Modi’s note ban decision had caused immense hardship to those living in the rural areas.Keeping in mind that western Uttar Pradesh had vast tracts of agricultural land, Modi played the pro-poor and pro-farmers card and reiterated BJP’s promise of waiving loans of small and marginal farmers and paying the dues of sugarcane growers within 14 days of coming to power.
Interestingly, political bigwigs, including SP patron Mulayam Singh Yadav and Congress president Sonia Gandhi were conspicuous by their absence from the campaign trail in the first two phases of polling.